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Scoring systems
Scoring in golf is another part of the etiquette. There are no umpires or referees to give a decision, the player is alone with his conscience.
Cheating at golf is simply not tolerated and should a player cheat and be discovered, which he will be eventually, then he will be branded for the rest of his golfing days and will be avoided by his fellow players.
Breaking the rules inadvertently is another matter and happens frequently through misinterpretation. In these cases the player is penalized under the rule applying to the situation.
Stroke Play and Match Play
There is only one form of scoring used in golf and that is to count the number of strokes made at the ball and that includes attempts to hit the ball that miss altogether!
There are a number of systems to which scoring can be applied. The most popular is called stroke-play whereby each player counts every stroke he makes and the player who, at the end of the day, has played the least number of strokes is adjudged the winner. In stroke-play every hole must be completed by the player putting his ball into the hole.
The other favoured system is match-play in which the players play individually against each other rather than the rest of the field. In match-play, if player A holes out in five strokes and player B holes out in six strokes then player A wins the hole.
The match proceeds in this fashion until one player is more holes ahead than there are holes left to play. Thus, a result which reads that player A beat player B by three and two means that A was three holes ahead with only two left to play and therefore was unbeatable. It often happens in match-play that at the end of 18 holes the players are level or, in golfing terminology, 'all square'. If a result has to be achieved then the players return to the first hole and the first player to win a hole is the winner.
This is known as 'sudden-death' and from this a result may read that player A beat player B at the 19th or the 21st or even the 24th, depending on the number of extra holes they played before a player won a hole. In match-play the ball does not have to be holed out as a player may consider that his opponent's ball is so close to the hole that it would be impossible to miss and he can concede the putt.


The Swing Foundations
The object of the golf swing is to generate power at the precise moment when the club-head is striking the ball.
This power must also be generated accurately so that the club-head is travelling along the correct path to propel the ball in the right direction. In order to achieve these two objectives, the golfer has to make certain movements that are designed to help him in his quest for power and accuracy.
These movements, however, will be useless if the foundations upon which they are built are insecure. To begin with, a golfer must master the swing foundations for without that mastery he will never realize his full potential.
It is not as difficult as it may appear to master the swing foundations as they all take place before the club is actually set in motion. All the swing foundations complement each other and enable the golfer to combine them into the execution of a free-flowing, powerful swing.
The stance
Good golf starts from the feet and since they are your only contact with Mother Earth it is important to use them correctly. A great deal has been written about the stance in golf and most of it is really unnecessary and confusing.
One school of thought maintains that the golfer should stand with his legs apart so that the distance between his feet is the same as the width of his shoulders. This is confusing particularly if a player has very broad or very narrow shoulders.
How you stand to the golf ball should be how you stand in everyday life; in other words, be natural. When you stand with your feet apart at a dance or waiting for a train, you aren't wondering if your feet are the width of your shoulders apart; you simply stand in the position that feels most comfortable to you. So it is when standing to a golf ball. If you are slightly splay-footed when you walk this will be reflected in your golf stance and if you are slightly pigeon-toed then this also will be mirrored in your stance.
Don't worry, just be natural and stand with your weight evenly distributed between your feet in the position that feels most comfortable. Similarly, it is most unlikely that you stand normally with your legs absolutely ramrod straight, yet so many golfers do just that when they come to play. The legs should be relaxed and the knees should be slightly bent as if you were about to sit down.
The position of your feet is also important. Again, if you stand naturally you will probably find that your big toes are parallel. This is called a square stance because your feet are square to the intended line of flight. The lining up of your feet will determine how the rest of your body lines up to the line of flight so it is important to achieve a square stance.
The grip
Your hands are the only contact with the club and how you position them will determine how you hit the ball.
The object of the grip is to weld the hands together so that they function as a unit.
If your grip does not allow this to happen then you will always struggle.
The word `grip' is something of a misnomer as it implies vice-like clenching of the club when in fact the pressure your hands apply should be no more than is necessary to swing the club back and down again.
The three types of grip
The three types of grip: The overlapping, the two-handed and the interlocking.
There are three types of grip you can use.
First there is the overlapping grip or `Vardon grip', so called because it was popularized by the late Harry Vardon, the great British golfer who won the British Open Championship a record six times. This grip involves the little finger of the right hand overlapping the index finger of the left hand.
Then there is the two-handed or 'baseball' grip in which there is no overlapping and both hands are simply placed on the shaft. Lastly, there is the interlocking grip in which the little finger of the right hand and index finger of the left hand interlock. The most popular of these grips is the overlapping grip, but for people with small hands the interlocking grip could be more suitable. The interlocking grip is used by Jack Nicklaus and you won't find a higher recommendation than that. The two-handed grip is favoured by players who have weak hands, but because there is no connection via the fingers between the hands, this is the grip that is most likely to break down.
As the overlapping grip is the most popular we will concentrate on that.
Take a club (remember to wear your left-hand glove) and, adopting the stance we've previously talked about, rest the club-head on the ground. Now lay the club diagonally across the palm and fingers of the left hand so that the top of the shaft is snug into the palm. Now close your fingers around the shaft and place your left thumb on the shaft so that it is a little to the right as you look down.

  1. You should be able to see two to 21 knuckles of the first three fingers of the left hand when you look down your extended arm.
  2. The right hand is then placed slightly under the shaft so that the fingers wrap around with the little finger overlapping the index finger of the left hand.
  3. The thumb of the right hand should be slightly to the left of the shaft and as a further check look down at your hands on the shaft and notice the two 'Vs' formed by the thumb and index finger of each hand.

If the 'Vs' are both pointing in the direction of the right shoulder, then your grip is sound. If the 'Vs' point in different directions then your grip is wrong.
Having learned how to grip the club correctly, you now have to blend that grip into your stance so you are in a position to hit the ball.
You will probably find that the club is not long enough to reach the ground even if you are of only average height and your instinct will be to bend from the waist in order to get the club-head flat on the ground. This is a very common posture among golfers, but remember the flexed knees and sitting down position we talked about earlier. If you remember to keep your upper body as erect as possible and bend your knees slightly, you will find that the club-head reaches the ground easily. Remember also the position of the feet because golfers have the habit of lining up their shoulders with their feet. If your feet are square to the intended line of flight then your shoulders have a good chance of being the same.
Shoulder position
Your grip can also affect your shoulder position. If your grip with the right hand is too much on top of the shaft, that is too far to the left, then you will find your right shoulder has come round and your shoulders will point to the left.
If you get the 'Vs' of your grip pointing back up towards the right shoulder then your shoulders will be in a good position so that when you turn your head to the left you should be looking directly down the intended line of flight. Because the right hand is lower than the left hand on the shaft, your right shoulder will be lower than your left.
This posture will also throw a little more weight to the right.
Having got into this position with your grip on the club firm but not tight, just swing the club back to about knee height and through again.
Imagine you are swishing a stick at a daisy and while you are swinging the club to and fro, try and keep it on a straight path.
This will help you get the feel of swinging with your arms and assist your co-ordination.
Ball position
Now you are in a comfortable address position, you have to add the ball which is the chief object of your intentions! The position of the ball in relation to your set-up is vitally important and often overlooked even by experienced players.
Draw an imaginary line from the inside of your left heel at address; where that line meets the clubface is where the ball should be.
If you cannot imagine a line, place a club shaft on the ground and then take up your address position with your left heel against the shaft and the shaft at right angles to your intended line of flight.
You cannot use the shaft as a guide in actual play as it is against the rules so it is best to get used to positioning the ball on the inside of the left heel without the club shaft.
This ball position should be adopted for all shots (other than specialist shots which we shall deal with later) from those with the driver to those with the 9-iron.
Your comfortable stance will be at its widest with the driver and as you progress to the shorter clubs, your stance will become narrower by the simple means of moving your right foot nearer your left. By the time you are playing a 9-iron, your heels will be only a few inches apart, but the ball will still be in line with the inside of your left heel.


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